The White Cottage

MY DAYS IN RETIREMENT

Keeping The Memories Alive

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When Nat and I were first living together we purchased a video camera. One of those big old clunky ones that resembled what was sitting atop a cameraman’s shoulder while he was video-taping that roving reporter. We used it on our first trip to Britain when Nat introduced me to his family and subsequently proposed at Edinburgh Castle. Despite its size we used it on several trips thereafter, along with capturing quite a few family memories when our first grandchild was born. It was one of those purchases where it gets used a lot and then somehow falls by the wayside and gathers dust in a closet. When the newer, smaller hand-held camcorders arrived on the scene we were anxious to update, remembering that we did at least get some use out of one. We gave the older video camera to the kids to share and maybe capture a few of their own memories onto tape.

With our newer camera in tow, we shot video of our trips to Mexico, the Caribbean, a second trip to England, Scotland and the Isle of Skye, along with our major trip across Canada, the Alaskan cruise and return home through the northern United States. We also took it on our Snowbird trips to Florida to capture video of our condos, the white sandy beaches and surrounding tourist sites we visited. There were a lot of times where Nat would drive and I’d hold the camera while shooting video of surrounding countryside all the while giving as much narration as I could. It was great fun and we were glad we had upgraded. The newer camera was even simpler to use and took 8MM tape cassettes, which was easier to handle and could be viewed on our television screen while using the camera for video playback. We truly thought we were doing pretty good having the latest and greatest in video camcorder technology, not knowing at the time what the future would deliver.

As with the first camera, this camcorder, too, somehow landed on the top shelf of Nat’s closest where it gathered a little dust because of lack of usage. Facing reality, Nat pulled the camera down from its little corner of the world, blew off the dust, and has now decided to sell it. Taking a couple days of serious contemplation, he knew that the latest cameras were even smaller, more efficient and certainly cheaper than they use to be. We pulled everything out of the case – the camcorder, the battery packs, the remote, the manual, the tape cassettes and any other gizmo contained therein. We soon discovered there were a couple of cassettes that hadn’t been converted to DVD yet and we knew this had to be done before we could even list it on Kijiji. Clearing the dining room table and gathering everything needed to do the conversion – the little bedroom TV, the VHS/DVD player-recorder and the camera itself – we plugged in, hooked up and reread the manuals in order to remind ourselves of what we were doing. Refreshing our memories took longer than the actual recordings we had made, but we managed to get organized and ready to go.

With the push of the Record button by me and the Play button by Nat, we were off and running. Suddenly the videos we had captured were flashing by us on that little television set. Christmas 1998 with Lucas in his little Toronto Maple Leaf shirt, Aunt Paula (now deceased) and the rest of the family gathered around the table, came rushing back to our minds. Then suddenly we were whisked into the future by a year and sailing around the Caribbean. Knowing that this was obviously going to take a few hours, we pulled ourselves away from the table to let the technology do its thing – get our memories recorded onto DVD for (hopefully) posterity. We continued on with our day but every now and again passing through the kitchen we would hear voices coming from the dining room that peeked our interest. We cranked our heads around the door to see where we were now and stopped and paused to watch as the tape rolled on. We both couldn’t help but remember some particular moment of the trip that was now passing by the screen. There were also some moments or places we had long forgotten, but were now glad they had been recorded. Getting closer to the end of the conversion, and after taking a break from housekeeping, I sat at the table to watch as the last 20 minutes of the cassette ran its course. Nat and I were now in Alaska, floating miles above the clouds, flying in and around the mountains on our way to spend a couple of hours high atop a glacier. The helicopter tour we had signed on for was one of the highlights of this particular trip despite the fact that I had come down with a horrendous cold the night before, was stuffed to the hilt and had a nose like Santa Claus himself. Nat soon joined me at the table, taking a break from his newspaper, just in time to see the pair of us walking about this icy-blue glacier with crevices that could swallow a small city, but were awe-inspiring to look at, even nine years later and on film. The whole tour ended with a brief viewing of our first condo in Florida. How befitting – from the wilds of Alaskan wilderness to the calm beaches of the southern U.S. We had been north to south and east to west all within a few hours.

Once our memories had finished being recorded, we packed up the whole shebang – TV, camcorder, VHS/DVD player – and got ready to list at least two of those items for sale. After taking pictures and composing script for the Kijiji Ad, I pushed the Publish icon and the deed was done. So anyone reading this and looking for a couple of bargains you know where we can be reached. As a postscript, Nat has been very quietly cruising the video camera departments of each and every store that sells them. “Just checking”, he says!!

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Author: Twila

Born and raised in a small town in Ontario, Canada, with 5 sisters and a brother. Now retired, my husband and I travel, play golf and am slowly renovating our new (old) home. After my kidney transplant in 1999, we've learned to enjoy life to the fullest. Nat and I have driven across Canada, taken an Alaskan cruise and drove home via the Northern United States. We've also been to Mexico, the Caribbean, the East Coast of Canada and Cape Breton. We've done the "Snowbird" thing, having lived in Destin, Florida for a couple of months of the year. In 2007 we changed our travel plans in order to move into and renovate our new "old" home, but hope to someday get back on the road again. We also love returning to Scotland (Nat's origin of birth) to visit his family and tour the Highlands and surrounding Isles.

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